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4 Things in Your House Dirtier Than A Toilet

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1. THE KEYBOARD YOU'RE USING RIGHT NOW.

Your keyboard can be an incredibly accurate representation of what's in your nose and your stomach. Of 33 randomly sampled computer keyboards tested by a British consumer group this year, four were dirty enough to be considered a health hazard, and one harbored hundreds of times more bacteria than your average toilet seat. Of course, not everyone's keyboard is this dirty; contributing factors include not washing your hands after using the bathroom, picking your nose, and eating at your computer (especially at work), as the crumbs left behind tend to become little bacteria factories. Experts recommend swabbing your keyboard with lightly dampened alcohol wipes on a regular basis—and be sure to shake those cookie crumbs out, too.

2. THE KITCHEN.

The way some folks keep their kitchens, it would be more sanitary to prepare dinner in the bathroom. You wouldn't know they were a health hazard to look at them, but everything from chopping boards and dishcloths to the plastic washing-up bowls they use in the UK and elsewhere can -- and often do—harbor an immense amount of food-borne bacteria. Put them all together—knives and a chopping board used to prepare raw chicken or fish in a plastic tub with warm soapy water—and you have almost ideal conditions for the spread of bacteria. Add to that the dishcloth you dry every dish with, which hangs semi-damp over the lip of the sink when not in use, and you've got a real kitchen nightmare (as opposed to the Gordon Ramsey kind). The solution? Health experts recommend washing up in the sink itself instead of a plastic tub, washing the sink out with bleach regularly, changing those dishtowels regularly and, ideally, installing a sensor-activated faucet so dirty hands aren't always touching the tap handles.

3. MEN'S WALLETS.

Of the everyday items in your house, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for bacteria is a man's wallet. You touch everything in it regularly—as do whatever strangers have passed its contents on to you—and it stays in your back pocket, a nice warm place for bugs to breed. (Proximity to one's booty was not otherwise considered a factor.) But are wallets a more serious menace than salmonella-encrusted kitchen sinks? Researchers at the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene say no: "It is not whether bacteria are present, or how many there are, but what type they are."

4. WOMEN'S DESKS.

Sorry, ladies. It seems your desks—at home and at work—are often up to 400 times more bacteria-laden than a toilet seat, and 3 to 4 moreso than a man's desk. A research team at the University of Arizona offered several explanations: first and foremost, that women are more likely to keep snacks in their desk drawers, which promote mold and incubate bacteria like nobody's business. Secondly, make-up and lotions aid the transfer of bacteria from surface to surface, and more frequent contact with small children—who, let's face it, can be pretty germy—was also a contributor. "If there's ever a famine," one of the researchers said, "the first place I'll look for food is a woman's desk."

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
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TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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